The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has expressed its disappointment and shock at the postponement of the Nigerian elections hours to the election.
The group made up of more than seventy Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections said the postponement has put the competence and credibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the election in doubt.
Prior to the postponement, INEC had assured Nigerians and the international observers of its readiness to conduct the polls severally.
In a statement signed by Clement Nwankwo, the convener of the Situation Room, the civil group called on INEC to “immediately provide clear explanations to Nigerians and stakeholders on what went wrong and steps to be taken to ensure that this does not happen again.”
Chairman of the Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said in the early hours of Saturday that the postponement was necessary following a review of the implementation of INEC’s logistics and operational plan. He said the shift in the election date was necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of Nigeria’s democracy.
The civil groups sympathised with political parties, candidates, businesses and Nigerians over the postponement that has imposed unforeseen financial and logistics burden on them.
“We sympathize with Nigerians and urge restraints in the face of this sad postponement. We particularly call on political parties and candidates for election, to put Nigeria first and ensure that every grievance is channeled through appropriate quarters.”
Situation room tasked INEC to reassure Nigerians of their ability to conduct a transparent poll and enforce electoral rules.
“The Commission needs to explain to Nigerians how they are able to address the extra financial and logistics burden that this has occasioned. Also the management and integrity of the already distributed materials is key.”
Cynthia Mbamalu, YIAGA Program Officer, in a press conferernce, called on the commission to prosecute those responsible for the logistical failures that caused the postponement of the election.
“We need the commission to speak to us. We need to see people who will be held responsible. We need to see people called to order. We need to see people prosecuted for this disregard and we also need to see a report on what the commission is doing to ensure that on Saturday 23rd that the elections would hold voters would vote and we would have a successful and credible process.”
She pleaded with Nigerians to come out en masse to vote on the rescheduled date.
“We call on Nigerian people, we call on citizens, we understand your anger and frustration, we all are not happy but please channel that anger and frustration towards 23rd of February because this is the time we need to even turn out in mass to vote to show that regardless of the challenges that we stand with one voice and to go out and choose our leaders. Let this not be a form of discouragement.”
“Young Nigerians this is not the time to take to the streets, this is the time to go and reorganise and mobilise ourselves to come out in our numbers.”
The Civil Societies also condemned the treatment of the National Youth Corps members, while referencing “heart-breaking pictures of these brave young men and women sleeping in open fields without any arrangement for their security and safety”.
They urged all eligible voters to come out and cast their vote while noting that they will continue to “closely watch the process and will take needed step to support the conduct of credible elections in Nigeria.”
EIE’s executive director, Yemi Adamolekun also spoke at the press conference.